Qigong Meditation, Qigong and Shiatsu Acupressure Therapy. Detailed description of basic technique.
Qigong (Chi Gun) is a Chinese meditation technique. Chi (pronounced more like "tsi") means the "life force", and Gun (pronounced more like "goon") means work. The work of chi. It is easy and not physically challenging at all, and yet it can make dramatic changes in person's physical and mental health.
You see, unlike in Western civilization, Qigong Meditation is focused on relaxation, rather then on exercises and "pushing iron". And - according to Chinese - at some point the "blocks" that prevent your chi from moving around will disappear, and your "energy channels" will open.
Why is it so important to relax? In terms of Chinese philosophy, because the moment some part of our body becomes tense, the energy flow through this part stops. In terms of the modern medicine the explanation is a bit longer and probably not so straightforward. First of all, there are little muscles around our backbone, that can go to spasm and stay there for a very long time, if not forever. It creates all sorts of problems, from the headache to heart conditions, and - in modern medicine - we usually are trying to treat the condition, and not the reason, which, obviously, does not work as good as we want.
Second, in NL (see Introduction to NLP article) we talk a lot about mental states, that are closely related to our physical states. In an oversimplified form, when you feel good, you smile, and when you smile - you feel better. Also we know, that in the different mental states we have access to the different resources. When you are playing piano, you have no access to your martial arts skills, and when you are fighting - you have no access to your piano player's skills.
What does it have to do with being tense (as opposed to relaxed)? A lot. Being tense, or in other words, stressed, is a mental and physical state. Have you ever noticed, that when you are watching a horror movie, you are getting tense? Closed fists, jerking hands, high heart rate... The problem here is in the resources, that you can access from this particular state. They are very limited. You cannot think clear under the stress, you cannot relax under the stress... And the most unpleasant - you cannot heal under the stress, as your body is "stressed", too. It might have all the necessary resources, but it cannot use it, because it is the stress time! Something is coming! The body is waiting for an external danger, instead of fixing internal problems...
If the stress will come and go, it is fine. But what if the stress persists? Our body will always be in the "waiting for trouble" state, instead of healing itself, "recharging" and so on. This kind of life is no fun at all.
As I mentioned, the Qigong Meditation is a relaxation technique. In a matter of minutes it allows you to relax, both physically and mentally. And then you might notice, to your surprise, that the deceases are gone and the stress is not affecting you anymore. It is a truly wonderful technique.
If you do it right, Qigong Meditation is safe. If you make errors, or if you have some (very rare) health conditions, it may create unpleasant sensations. I am not going to discuss these "dangers" here, as there are sources in the Internet, dealing with the issue. I believe, that if you do it in a relaxed way, without pushing and if you do not do techniques that feel unpleasant - you will be fine. Nevertheless, read the disclaimer and find a local guru, if in doubts.
Here is a simple qigong exercise that is part of almost all Qigong meditation, Tai Chi Meditation and Taiji Qigong meditation forms.
This exercise allows you to balance Chi in your body and will also help you to open energy channels.
Stay straight, feet shoulder width apart, parallel to each other. Knees slightly bent and slightly outside, as if you are holding small sphere between your knees.
Note, that each and every detail in this little description is important. By placing our feet shoulder width apart, we are aligning the energy channels, making it easier for them to open. By making sure feet are parallel, we put all channels to the equal conditions. Often, people do exercises with their toes pointing 45 degrees to the outside. This is wrong.
For the same reason - aligning the energy channels - we need to keep our knees outside. The knee should be above the foot, this way our lower back flattens.
Note that we put hands on our belly button, palms towards the body. For the men, the right hand goes on top of the left one, for women, the other way around. Centers of the right and the left palms (the point is called lao gun, see list of acupressure points below and the chinese acupressure guide in the eBook) should be on top of each other.
The large, "meaty" area at the base of the thumb, that Chinese call a "big fish" should go on top of the belly button, palms pointing at 45 degrees down. Fingers must be straight, do not bend them, forming a fist. In all Qigong Exercises exercises, the "relaxation" is not equal to "weakness". Fingers should be straight and relaxed, but not weak.
We are going to bring our hands up and to the sides. The first half of the trajectory hands should go with the palms down, receiving the "energy of the Earth". The second half of the trajectory they go palms up, receiving the energy of the sky.
The wrist MUST be straight, the fingers straight, too. They should not be apart, but they should not be touching each other either. The thumb is pointing to the side, forming an arch (as opposed to the sharp angle) with the rest of the fingers, and a little bit inside, so that there is another arch between the thumb and baby finger.
An important point: we never, except for few exercises, have our hands up. Try it. Bring your hands up, and notice, that at some point your shoulders move up, too. And the moment shoulders move up, they are getting tense, and the energy flow stops.
The following rule applies to both Qigong Exercises and Tai Chi Meditation Techniques. Hands are always in front of the body, no less then 30 degrees to the plane where the back is. If you look at the image above, you will notice, that hands do not go to the sides, instead, they go 30 degrees forward, moving around the surface of some kind of a cone. To get a better idea of what I am talking about, look at the shadow of the man on the picture below.
The back is straight, but (we are relaxing, remember?) we don't need to push our shoulder blades back, as they do in the military. It is a relaxed straight.
After the hands turn palms up, they still move 30 degrees to the plane where the back is, so that even in the upper point of the trajectory shoulders are down.
At the end, hands are moving to the head. Allow your wrists to drop down, and imagine the energy (chi) that you collected during the first part of an exercise, to flow from your palms into the point on top of your head (the point is called bai huei).
As the energy flows down, through the central line of your body, follow it with your hands, and with your attention. Hands must be relaxed, as well as your breathing.
Let's talk about breathing for a moment. When you perform the Show Goon, you do what is called a direct breathing. Your chest should not move, while your diaphragm does. When you breath in, your belly moves forward, in a very relaxed way. When you breath out, your belly moves back.
Of course, when your hands go up, you breath in, when they go down, you breath out.
The breathing should be steady, relaxed and "thin". You don't hear it, and you are not trying to make it "powerful" or whatever else.
When your hands are 2 inches below the belly button, you need to turn them inside, thinking of the energy going into your "center", also called the "lower dan tjan".
In Qigong Meditation, we work with 3 dan tjans, upper (the "third eye"), middle (the heart) and lower one. These are points where the energy is converted and distributed all over the body. To find the lower dan tjan, find your belly button. Put your palm under the belly button, to locate the point four fingers (width of a finger, not length) below the belly button. This point is called tsi hai. The lower dan tjan is about half way between the tsi hai (which is on the surface of our body) and the backbone.
After the energy arrived to the lower dan tjan, you have two choices. First, you can imagine a little hot ball of the energy, size of a small egg, spinning in dan tjan. Instruct it to keep spinning until the next class.
Or you can imagine the energy as the friendly light, that is going from the dan tjan to all areas of the body. The metaphor here is that the energy of the Earth and the Sky came to dan tjan, transformed to the form you need and then was distributed to the different areas of the body.
Move your hands down and do another cycle, if necessary.
After you are finished with this exercise, you need to "close" the dan tjan. Move your hands, as if you have a huge beach ball in front of your dan tjan, and slowly bring your hands together on top of your dan tjan, left hand below the right for men, or right hand below the left one for women.
Finally, move your hands from the dan tjan to the sides of your body, and then by the sides of your hips - down. The exercise is complete.
The pressure points are very important in both Qigong Exercises and Tai Chi. We are going to use them a lot, to help the "chi", and as a general health routine.
The Qigong uses the "slapping and punching" massage techniques, that allow to massage the points, even if they are not located close to the surface of the body. Also, when you hit the pressure point with your fist (don't get scared, it does not hurt at all) you don't have to be concerned about its exact location.
The effect of the "slapping massage" is very strong. People feel the heat and vibrations, the blood circulation improves, headaches and some other conditions disappearing...
Let's list the most important points used in Qigong Exercises. All these points can be used without limitations (except, you still need to have the common sense), they help normalize the blood pressure, to fight the osteochondrosis, to open the capillary (ever had "cold hands"?) and even to reduce the headache.
The sequence (which points should be massaged first) is explained in the section of the eBook dealing with the self-massage, basically, we go from the top (head) down. Below the most important Chinese Pressure points are listed in no particular order.
Please keep in mind, that Chinese sounds a bit different from English, so my transcriptions are not perfect.
Located at the outer sides of the buttocs, these points are responsible for legs, lower back and lower part of the abdomen.
If you put your thumb close to the side of the palm, the little "bump" will form at the back side of the palm, between the thumb and the rest of the fingers.
Press the point on the top of this bump, and then move the pressure a little bit sideways, as the point is located a little bit under the first (hidden) bone of the pointing finger.
Massage is perforned by the thumb of the opposite hand.
The point can be used as a "pain-killer", for headache, toothache and so on.
The point is located under the disc of the knee. Rob it firmly with the side of the palm.
If you allow your hands to hang by the sides of your body, your middle fingers will touch these points. Located on the side of the thigh, these points are responsible for legs and waist area.
Draw imaginary lines, dividing the foot (without toes) to 3 parts. The point is located at 1/3 of the distance between the toes and the heel (closer to toes), at the middle line.
Another way of finding this point: grab the toes and bend them. The little pit will form at the flat of the foot. The point is located in the center of this pit.
Massage these points before you go to bed. Also, the point is used in Qigong Practice to learn to move the "chi".
The point is located four fingers below the belly button. Used in Qigong Practice to learn to move the "chi".
The point is located below the largest neck vertebrae (C7-T1). It is responsible for the immune system, and blood circulation in the neck and hands. Massage it with your fingers and palm.
Located between two "bones" at the elbow joint. Massage it with the tips of your fingers.
The point between the eyebrows, the "third eye".
The point on the top of the head. A very important point, according to Qigong, the energy of the heaven enters here. Massage is performed by gentle slapping, as part of the Qigong Exercises warm up.
The point in the groins area, between the groins and anus. A very important point, according to Qigong, the energy of the Earth enters here. We do not massage this point directly.
Located at the back bone, at the waist level (between second and third low back vertebrae). Massage is performed by gentle slapping, as part of the Qigong warm up, we also massage this point in some Taiji Qigong forms.
Two points, located at the hand, 3 fingers above the wrist, at the inner and outer (where we wear the hand watches) side of the hand. These points are more sensitive to pressure, then the rest of the hand.
The massage is performed by hitting the points with the bottom side of the fist (where the baby finger is), or using fingers, with strong circular motions.
Draw an imaginary line between the 7th neck vertebrae and the top of a shoulder joint. Divide the line by two. The point is located at the top of the muscle, it is very sensitive. We need to massage it very well.
The point is responsible for hands, shoulders, brain and more. The massage is performed using the fist of the other hand.
The "point of immortality". Bend your knees. Put your palms on the kneecaps. Feel the outer edge of the bone, and place your ring fingers at the outer side of this edge. In Chinese medicine, the term "tsun" is used. The "tsun" is equal to the width of a thumb's fingernail, at the right hand for women, and left hand for men. Every person has his own tsun. The point is located at the shin, one tsun to the outside from the ring finger, when you place it as described above.
The point is massaged using fists (punching) or fingers, in which case you need to apply pressure, as the point is deep.
The point is responsible for the legs, and general longevity.
The "point of 3 channels", called so because 3 energy channels are crossing there.
Located 4 fingers above the round bone on the inner side of the foot, exactly on the side line (inner side) of the leg.
Bend your middle fingers. The point is located at the palm, where the tip of the middle finger touches the skin. The massage is done as part of the Qigong warm up routine.